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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Belles come back against Bethel

After a solid win against the Trine tennis team on Wednesday, the Saint Mary’s Belles took a cross-town trip to play local rival Bethel. Though the game was a non-conference matchup, both teams came into the match with something to prove.

The last two times Saint Mary’s had played Bethel, they had lost 5-4 and 7-2. Saint Mary’s most recent victory was in 2018 when they blew out the Pilots 8-1.

A struggling Bethel squad had just made it back to the .500 mark. After back-to-back trouncings at the hands of Grace College (1-6) and Oakland City University (0-7), the Pilots were steering towards disaster. Then they earned a 7-0 win against Manchester University. A win against the Belles would put the Pilots at 6-5 and guarantee them a .500 season with one opponent left on the schedule. After Friday, however, Bethel will still be in search of its sixth win and a .500 record.

Doubles

The doubles portion of the match opened quite favorably for the visiting Belles. Senior Alayna Campbell and freshman Emma Kealy were on the first court, earning an 8-4 victory. At No. 2 doubles, freshman Leah Hosang and senior Kalyn Borger also secured a win, albeit by a closer score of 8-6.

Trouble began for the Belles in the third doubles set, however; Senior Kathleen McLeod and freshman Hannah Gerner fell to the Pilots’ third duo of Saige Rinkenberger and Anna Story 5-8.

Singles

With a slight lead of 2-1, the Belles moved into the six singles competitions, looking to lock up their advantage. The Pilots, however, would not go down with their ship quite so easily.

Borger fell in rapid succession to Rinkenberg, losing 2-6 and 1-6, tying the overall match at two all. Hosang put the Belles back on top, needing three sets to do so. She won her first, 6-1, before losing her second, 3-6. In the closely contested third, tie-breaking set, Hosang emerged victorious 11-9.

The next singles match also required three sets; however, the Belles came up short this time. Kealy won her first set by a score of 6-2 and then lost to Bethel's Alexia Pena by the reverse score. The two would need a third set to determine a winner. The third set was played as a tiebreaker to ten points, requiring the victor to win by two. The winner took 22 points to find. Ultimately, Pena snagged a 12-10 win, tying the overall competition at three each.

McLeod quickly lost her two matches by scores of 1-6 and 4-6, giving Bethel a 4-3 lead. With the Belles now trailing, senior Annika Smith knotted up the contest on the sixth court, winning back-to-back sets 6-3.

The match came down to Campbell and her singles opponent, Elizaveta Mikhailova at No. 1 singles. The pair needed an extra game in the first set, where Campbell won 7-5. Campbell then beat her a second time, 6-4, securing a narrow win for the Belles.

With the win, the Belles improved to an overall record of 15-2, though they remain 4-2 in conference play. The team now looks toward its final MIAA conference match of the season when they take on the Albion Britons on Tuesday. Then, it is onto Earlham, who the Belles host on Saturday, April 22 for senior day.

The Belles match against Albion is slated for a 4 p.m. start.